Prospect Awards Finalists 2014: Coal Mine of the Year

Finalists in the running for this year’s Coal Mine of the Year award have been revealed.

Peabody Energy's Millenium mine

In 2013, the Millenium mine achieved record clean coal production and sales of 3.4 million tonnes, had a total cost reduction of 20 per cent and reached over one million man hours without a lost time injury.

The mine achieved these milestones all whilst transitioning from a contractor-run mine to an owner-operator model.

These shifts have seen it nominated this year.

Peabody attributes its success to improvements in mine planning, mining method, pit setup, organisational culture and fleet configuration which included the introduction of an electric shovel which had not been used at the site before.

Millenium has used an innovative approach to extracting its resource by using multiple mining methods across the mine based on the geology, pit conditions, and cost effectiveness. 

A combination of strip mining, terrace mining, and dozer push is utilised. 

An electric rope shovel was also introduced which has been set up to maximise overburden and increase overall productivity. 

The mine also created a streamlined production model where better planning of dumping and efficient sequencing of mining blocks has encouraged high fleet productivity. 

Additionally, the redesign of haul roads and introduction of real-time equipment health monitoring has improved the availability and reliability of equipment fleet.

It has also increased the feed to the coal washing plant through short interval controls and operational focus which greatly contributed to the record of the amount of clean coal production in 2013. 

Glencore's Oaky Creek mine

For the construction of a purpose built Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant, Glencore's Oaky Creek coal mine has been nominated for the Coal Mine of the Year Award.

With OCC's mine affected water inventory at critically high levels, the site was severely constrained, with large open cut voids full with gigalitres of mine water, prohibiting underground longwall coal extraction to proceed safely in these areas without time consuming and expensive dewatering operations to transfer water between storages ahead of underground mining.

 OCC required a water treatment solution to reduce the salt concentration in the mine affected water, and needed to reduce raw water consumption at the same time.

The plant has successfully met the performance specification and output, producing up to 6 ML/day of product water for use throughout the mine site.

In addition, the site has driven water usage reduction through the underground mines (Oaky No.1 and Oaky North) through the installation of solenoids and automated controls on dust suppression systems, particularly on longwall and coal transfer conveyor systems. 

Raw water (treated to potable standard) is now only used for selected applications, and for human amenities (showers, drinking water, etc).

To date the water treatment plant has reduced the mine's raw water usage by more than 1 billion litres each year (over 60 per cent reduction in raw water usage – equivalent to more than 500 Olympic swimming pools of freshwater saved annually).

As Oaky Creek continues to optimise the operation of the plant and switch more mine services to RO Water, it is expected that the site will achieve up to 90 per cent reduction on raw water usage in the 2014/2015 period.

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